Chesterton Tribune



$6 million upgrade for emergency radios approved

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The Porter County Commissioners Tuesday gave their approval 3-0 on an agreement with Motorola for the implementation and maintenance of upgrades to the Enhanced 911 communications system for roughly $6 million.

The upgrades, as first discussed openly at the Commissioner’s Aug. 23 meeting, are to allow County 911 Center and all fire and police in Porter County to use an 800 megahertz (MHz) spectrum radio system that other counties in the state are switching to.

The State’s Integrated Public Safety Commission for ten years has led the charge in creating an inter-operable system for police, fire departments and EMS on local levels, said its Field Services Director John Ashter.

The agreement is for $4,358,564 in yearly increments over ten years starting in 2018. The first year will be about $470,000 and no interest will be owed the first three years. An interest rate of 3.2 percent will be paid in the years following, said County Attorney Scott McClure.

Additionally, the County will pay about $75,000 per year for twenty years of maintenance costs in the contract, McClure said, or $1.55 million total, putting the final costs at over $6 million.

The contract will be primarily for the infrastructure needed for Porter County to be inter-operable with the state system, connecting with surrounding counties. There will be five 200 ft. monopole towers in the county that will carry the radio signals.

Commissioner President John Evans, R-North, said the costs do not cover radio equipment and that individual fire departments and police will be responsible for contacting their municipal boards to come up with the funding for those in the year's time it takes to get the system set up. He said Portage Fire Chief Tom Pfeiffer is working on getting grants to aid the fire stations.

The Commissioners were told by Motorola in August the costs of the upgrades would be close to $9.8 million total. Last month, Motorola was said by Evans to offer a contract at $9 million should the County sign on by the end of the year. He asked fellow commissioners Jeff Good, R-Center, and Laura Shurr Blaney, D-South, for their support but both stated they felt more time was needed to consider the contract with respect to how the County and the municipalities could support it.

At Tuesday’s meeting, E-911 Communications Director C.J. Wittmer said he had met with Jay Bura, Motorola’s account manager for Northern Indiana, and had further discussions. The department has talked about the upgrades for about a year and a half, Wittmer said.

Burla was present Tuesday with the new contract.

“We know we need to do the infrastructure for 911 immediately if we want to get a deal by the end of the year,” Evans said.

Evans said there is no request for bids with the contract because Motorola is the only telecommunication provider that the State has authorized for its requirements. The County will be putting out a Request for Proposals on new radio equipment for its departments that will use them, he said.

Good said one of the towers will be put in near the County’s Highway Garage south of Valparaiso on Ind. 2. One other will be put in Porter Twp. and one location will be an existing tower on the east side of the county, he said.

“It will allow us to communicate all across the state,” Good said. “This is the big baseline foundation of moving forward.”

Burla said now is a great time for Porter County to join up as the state is entering its third and fourth phases of the system in the Northwest corner of the state and other counties are putting in their groundwork.

“This is a big day for us. We’re all excited. There has been a lot of legwork and we appreciate all of you sitting here in this room,” Good said to the fire chiefs, EMS workers and Sheriff’s Police sitting in the audience.

The Commissioners’ vote was welcomed with applause.

“It’s a lot of money. Technology doesn’t sit still and wait for people to catch up,” Evans said.



Posted 12/7/2016





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